Nigerian Youth: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (II) By Idris Evuti
If you missed the part 1 read The Nigerian Youth: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (I) By Idris Evuti
The first part of this piece discussed some challenges facing the Nigerian youth of today; it’s then germane and logical to talk about some possible solutions in this part. So that, I won’t be that ‘legless man who teaches legged people how to run or that ‘person who doesn’t know how to drive a car but only knows the road.’
Of course, one cannot discuss the challenges and prospects of the Nigerian youth without factoring-in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). In 1973, as a result of the civil war, Gen. Gowons’ regime introduced the NYSC scheme to allay/address the regional and tribal fears that engulfed the Nigerian society. Basically, to foster unity and peaceful coexistence amongst the diverse elements that makes up the Nigerian state – is the primary aim and objective of the NYSC scheme.
No doubt, the NYSC scheme has lived-up to the dreams of its founding fathers. But, every policy and scheme should have a sort of life span. That is, there is a need to always monitor government policies by the appropriate authorities so that they don’t outlive their usefulness.
If the Nigerian Youth of yesterday needed unity and peaceful coexistence, arguably, today the same youth craves for enabling environment, economic incentives and purposeful leadership. Hence, the need for new policies and schemes in-line with the yearnings and aspirations of the youth.
I also subscribe to the argument; that the main objectives, as well as the modus operandi of the NYSC should be redefined. The NYSC scheme should be remodel in a way that if being mobilised, you shouldn’t be far from gaining employment or being self-employed. For instance, entrepreneurial skill acquisition should be encouraged and made attractive, by making access to loan easier for corps members. The current practice of giving loans to corps members is cumbersome through (the NYSC-foundation). Even after meeting the stipulated conditions; corps members hardly get these loans.
Also, for those who intend, and are found capable of enlisting in the military, paramilitary and other security forces should have the NYSC scheme as a breeding ground for them. This sounds almost impossible; right? But, its feasible, Nigeria has the resources, all we need is just good leadership.
The Federal and State ministries of youth development and other concerned agencies have lost touch with the Nigerian youth. These MDA’s are supposed to be policy makers, taking and implementing decisions geared towards bettering the well-being of the Nigerian youth. Alas, all we see on the screens of our televisions and on the pages of newspapers are courtesy calls by National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), National Youth Council (NYC) and other ‘profit making’ youth organisations. As a matter of national interest, the MDA’s in charge of youth affairs should design feasible programmes that will integrate the youth into the mainstream society.
The recent Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) would have been laudable; if those who designed the programme actually had the intention of tackling the high rate of unemployment as their guiding philosophy. It is disheartening for a government to engage her citizens/youth for a period of one year, and then disengage them afterwards. There isn’t any justification for a graduate who has undergone the one year mandatory NYSC now being engaged for another period of only a year again. This is tantamount to sending them back to the labour market for only God knows when. What kind and quality of skills will one acquire in just a year? Moreover, to acquire skills is entirely different from having the resource to be independently established.
It is dangerous to have teeming educated and enlightened youth that are unemployed; the effects are on political, social, economic and security spheres of a society, especially in this era of internet/globalisation. This is suicidal. We are living testimonies to the role facebook and twitter played in the Arab spring. God forbid. I have always argued that in democracy, citizens will be forced to form vicious alliance and groups; if they cannot achieve their needs or protect their interest through democratic ways.
Yesterday, the Nigerian youth lived in a society full of euphoria, justice and equality. But, today the youth live in a strange world. And what is the hope and fate of the Nigerian youth tomorrow?
Idris Evuti tweets @ idrisevuti
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